CBDA is a powerful cannabinoid that provides immediate relief from aches and pains (particularly those caused by chronic inflammation) and may even help with depression or anxiety. It could also help protect your body from cancer and may even help you live a longer life. CBDA is much easier for your body to absorb than CBD, so it’s the cannabinoid you should look at if you want to get the most out of your hemp supplements.
WHAT IS CBDA?
CBDA is short for Cannabidiol acid, a non-psychoactive precursor compound to CBD.
CBDA is raw or unprocessed CBD.
To fully understand how it came so, let us take a quick dive into how cannabinoids are extracted from the plant. Most people don’t know that there are two different phytocannabinoid states: acidic and neutral (CBD, THC).
Cannabinoids first exist in the plants in their acid forms, and their primary existence comes as the CBGA. So, if you pick a hemp plant straight from the ground, you are most likely holding a plant rich in CBGA. CBGA then converts to three major acidic precursor compounds: CBCA, CBDA, and THCA. These then would be exposed to heat, light, or smoke to change their chemical structure and convert them to the cannabinoids we know, such as THC, CBD, and CBG.
RESEARCH ON CBDA
CBDA has been around the corner since the 1960s when Professor Rafael Mechoulam first isolated it. Mechoulam, a pioneer in the field of medical cannabis and one of the people who discovered the endocannabinoid system, concluded his research. In particular, the naturally occurring but unstable CBD acid (CBDA) is a thousand times more potent than CBD at binding to a specific serotonin receptor. This receptor is thought to be responsible for relieving nausea and anxiety, among other things.
In fact, Prof. Rafael Mechoulam stated the following about the progress in CBDA research:
“I think there should be more focus on the acidic precursors of THC and CBD – THCA and CBDA. Those molecules have low stability, so very little research has been done on them. But I think that they have a big potential and should be studied more.”
So does this mean CBDA is better than CBD? What exactly are the differences between the two?
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CBD & CBDA
CBDA is absorbed more effectively when taken orally than CBD – 5x to 11x times more effectively. And according to research, CBDA is more potent than CBD in animal models, not just because it is absorbed better but also because it acts more powerfully.
For instance, studies on animals have revealed CBDA as being:
- 10x more powerful than CBD in a seizure model
- 100x more potent in an inflammatory pain model
- 10,000x more potent in a nausea model
- 50,000x more potent in an anxiety model
CBDA vs. CBD
CBDA, as mentioned, was not receiving so much priority because it is unstable and less adaptable. The focus is on the neutral ones, like CBD and THC, because they have more stable molecules and last longer. CBD was easier to work with and could be produced in large quantities. It has become a bonus ingredient in everyday products like creams, gummies, lotions, etc.
To decide which is better is a tricky question! There is not enough early evidence to suggest that CBDA has distinct qualities that may set it apart from CBD in certain areas. But raw CBD may be just as good, if not better, at treating depression, nausea, and inflammation.
Why is it more effective when taken orally, you may ask?
This does not apply to only CBDA but all other cannabinoids in acid forms. Those are represented by “A” at the end of the acronyms. Our bodies are more accommodating to substances when they are in acid form. This explains why it is much easier for your stomach to take in fruits and vegetables instead of the processed ones like bread or the protein ones that take too much time to digest.
Edible cannabis passes through your stomach and liver before penetrating your bloodstream and brain. CBDA is converted by the liver into a stronger form, making the effects even more robust. And as CBDA is not a processed product, it will not take hours for the stomach to distribute it all over the body.
Also, for this reason, extracting juices from hemp stems or flowers is becoming increasingly popular for CBDA and CBGA consumers.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF CBDA?
Scientists thought that CBDA could not survive the digestion process once inside our body. Nor did they consider if it had any medicinal value. But over time, as they gave it more attention, it has shown that CBDA has a lot of powerful health benefits on its own. Recent research suggested CBDA seems to help with:
CBDA, like CBD, has been shown to help people with epilepsy in noticeable ways. Additionally, studies have shown that the two may work best together to treat seizures.
CBDA has a comparable molecular structure to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) like ibuprofen. Keeping it in its natural form, CBDA works on multiple levels than CBD to fight inflammation and pain. For this reason, CBDA also helps the gut work, lets the tissues heal faster after exercise or an injury, and treats inflammatory skin diseases such as allergic rashes and bacterial infections.
Overall well-being and cognition
CBDA is thought to bind serotonin receptors 100 times stronger. The serotonin receptors affect how well we deal with stress, aggression, anxiety, appetite, learning, memory, mood, nausea, sleep, and body temperature. One crucial observation is that CBDA could be used to treat depression effectively. This is because it acts like SSRI inhibitors used in antidepressants that are already on the market.
A study (1) says that CBDA is a thousand times better than CBD at stopping nausea by rapidly activating the body’s supply of serotonin. In fact, research shows that CBDA works better for this purpose than CBD when choosing between the two.
Cancer cell growth prevention
CBDA, like CBD, has antibacterial and antioxidant properties. It’s also getting known in the medical world because it seems to help fight cancer. For example, in a study of people with breast cancer (2), CBDA was shown to stop cancer cells from spreading to other body parts. This is because it can reduce inflammation (inflammation drives cancer development).
Future studies promise to reveal even more.
WILL CBDA GET YOU HIGH?
Not a chance. CBDA is not psychoactive, so it will not impair your cognitive or physical performance. CBDA offers excellent opportunities to produce more natural therapeutic products.
CBDA SIDE EFFECTS
Just like CBD, CBDA has its few adverse side effects. But as the cannabinoid is not as active in the body (bioactive) as CBD, these possible unpleasant effects are generally mild. Here are some of the possible side effects of CBDA use:
Mouth dryness (cottonmouth)
Low blood pressure
Mild mood swings
Of course, any of these are not likely to occur if you take CBDA in ideal or moderate doses. It is best to consult your doctor if you are experiencing any bothersome or persistent side effects.
HOW DOES CBDA ACTUALLY WORK?
All cannabinoids work with the same receiving end – the endocannabinoid system. This system consists of receptors, enzymes, and endocannabinoids that work in harmony to achieve their goal: homeostasis.
Most cannabinoids bind to the EC’s two primary chemical receptors, the CB1 and CB2 receptors. CBDA, however, has little interaction with those. Rather, CBDA interacts with the ECS by inhibiting the COX-2 enzyme, which has been linked to inflammation and breast cancer metastasis.
The effects of CBDA on the human body are still not entirely known. However, while researchers are still learning about its positive properties, we do know for sure that CBDA:
Affects the serotonin receptors, responsible for “the happy hormones” in our body, up to 100 times stronger than CBD.
Blocks body enzymes associated with inflammation.
Increased bioavailability since the body metabolizes CBDA much faster and with less effort than other cannabinoids.
CBDA is unlikely to interfere with the negative effects of THC. While many people enjoy the combined effects of CBD and THC, some suspect that CBD weakens THC’s therapeutic effects.
The Advantages of Combining CBDA and THC
CBDA, unlike CBD, does not lower THC’s heady effects when combined. This makes CBDA an excellent alternative for people who use THC for recreational purposes but also want the benefits of CBD without shrinking the THC effect.
HOW TO USE CBDA
Find products that have “raw CBD oil” in the ingredients. This way, you’ll know that it has not undergone decarboxylation, implying that the product contains CBDA rather than CBD. Products like tinctures, creams, and gels are also great sources of CBDA.
You can also apply a few drops of CBDA oil to the affected area to combat localized inflammation caused by a muscle sprain or other minor injury. If you have nausea, a dab of CBDA tincture placed directly under your tongue may provide relief.
If you want to use CBDA as a cancer treatment supplement, consult your doctor first. While CBDA may have anti-tumor properties, it is best to discuss with your doctor to determine whether the cannabinoid is an appropriate alternative.
And as modern technology makes it easier to find answers to these queries, more people are becoming aware that they can obtain CBDA simply by extracting raw hemp leaves, stems, or flowers. The extract is used as a garnish in vegetable and fruit salads. Alternatively, they blend superfoods like spinach, berries, or oats for an energizing breakfast smoothie.
CBD OR CBDA: WHICH IS BEST FOR ME?
If you are a routine CBD user, you already know that CBD helps you alleviate your mood and relax. But you also know that you must use it for a long time to reap its medical benefits, such as stopping seizures. Now acidic cannabidiols score a point higher in this stance since they are easier for the body to absorb.
So, in deciding which is better to use, think of CBDA to deal with specific problems, like nausea and epileptic seizures, because CBDA may work faster to stop them. Recent research also shows that CBDA can help the body use CBD better and that taking CBDA can reduce the amount of CBD needed to get the same effect.
There is no doubt that though CBDA may not be as phenomenal as CBD itself, there is enough evidence to give scientists and avid supplement users hope in its unique potential.
CBDA is considered to be risk-free, with no high or potential risks associated with THC (such as if your company drug tests). CBDA may be precisely what you need for your health routine to smooth out those crunches that you think CBD may not be able to help instantly.
So, what are you waiting for? Start picking up your CBDA supplements today! As always, we help you find the best products for your unique needs. Just reach out to our team, and we’ll be happy to help.
Thank you for reading!
David A. Gorelick, MD, PhD. (2020, January 30). The father of cannabis research: Q&A with Raphael Mechoulam. “RM: I think there should be more focus on the acidic precursors of THC and CBD – THCa and CBDa. Those molecules have low stability, and as a result, very little research has been done on them. But I think that they have a big potential and should be studied more.” On Health. BMC Blog Network. https://blogs.biomedcentral.com/on-health/2020/01/30/jcr-interview-with-raphael-mechoulam/
Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The Godfather of cannabis research, Prof. Raphael Mechoulam, celebrated at CannX 2020. https://www.cfhu.org/news/the-godfather-of-cannabis-research-prof-raphael-mechoulam-celebrated-at-cannx-2020/
Luna Technologies. What Is CBDA: Facts and Health Benefits. https://blog.lunatechequipment.com/understanding-what-cbda-is-and-its-health-benefits
1 E.M. Rock, L.A. Parker. (2017, January 6).Chapter 72 – The Role of 5-HT1A Receptor, and Nausea and Vomiting Relief by Cannabidiol (CBD), Cannabidiolic Acid (CBDA), and Cannabigerol (CBG). Handbook of Cannabis and Related Pathologies. ScienceDirect. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B978012800756300083
2 Takeda, S., Okajima, S., Miyoshi, H., Yoshida, K., Okamoto, Y., Okada, T., Amamoto, T., Watanabe, K., Omiecinski, C. J., & Aramaki, H. (2012, September 8). Cannabidiolic acid, a major cannabinoid in fiber-type cannabis, is an inhibitor of MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cell migration. PubMed Central. National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4009504/#:~:text=CBDA%20is%20an%20inhibitor%20of,inhibitor%20of%20cancer%20cell%20mobility.